Humans are visual creatures. A powerful image can evoke emotion and brand recognition. Marketing, at its roots, uses visuals to convey a message. In the evolution of social media marketing, we are finally at a point where visuals are becoming a dominant, driving force. What do we mean? As potential referral sources, patients, clients and family members become more search-centric when they need products and services, they are looking online, specifically to social media to help make purchase decisions. There is no quicker way to evoke influence than via visual image, which is why home care social media marketing just got Pinteresting.
With the meteoric rise of social media newcomer, Pinterest, and Facebook’s new Timeline format, home health care marketing has the opportunity to transform itself and create fresher and more visual campaigns that resonate with users, while driving a home health care agency’s website up in the search engine rankings.
However, social media itself is changing. With platforms emerging monthly, social networking is becoming a more visual medium giving companies the chance to bring the graphic-based aspect of their brand to the forefront.
Ready to try your hand at social media? Before diving into any kind of social media marketing, and especially because of compliance and privacy issues in the health care industry, it is highly recommended that a first step be to implement a social media policy. This puts into place a set of parameters which helps with standardization, as well as protects your business, your employees and your clients. For an example of a social media policy, click here.
Pinterest: The New Face of Social Media Marketing
Businesses that haven’t yet been introduced to the highly addictive and wildly popular Pinterest, should be aware that since its soft launch to developer Ben Silbermann’s close friends and family in early 2010, the site has skyrocketed and is currently the third most popular social media network in the U.S. A highly visual site, Pinterest allows users to create boards and “pin” interesting photos from other sites around the web to those boards. These “pins” link other users back to the website from which the image came, creating the potential for a vast network of prospective new clients for companies who previously had a more limited reach. For more information about Pinterest and how it works, visit www.pinterest.com/about/. For a real life example of how to use Pinterest as a marketing tool, visit www.pinterest.com/corecubed/.
While the connection between Pinterest and home care marketing may not immediately leap to mind, the site offers agencies a great way to display information about their services, caregivers, and more in a fun, more visually dynamic way. People seeking information about in-home care are seeking a way to trust and build confidence that the home health agency will care for their loved one. The soft touch of Pinterest and its visuals can go a long way to accomplish just that. Tap into current and potential clients’ needs by creating pinboards like:
- Healthy Recipes: Many home care clients have special dietary needs, and the families of these clients are constantly searching for heart-healthy or diabetes-friendly meals. Pin images of tasty, yet healthy recipes that your clients can enjoy on a Healthy Recipe pinboard. Should a client find a recipe interesting, the photo links directly to the site from which it was pinned, so finding the actual recipe is easy.
- Home Health Products: Many agencies either sell in-home care products or work closely with a specific manufacturer whose product line they recommend. A pinboard with recommendations for home medical equipment gives clients a convenient spot to find what they need from a source they trust. Plus the visuals make the product “spring to life” with the opportunity to show a product in action as opposed to just a sales photo.
- Health- and Caregiver-related Articles: Pin news articles that your clients and caregivers might find helpful or interesting. This is another great way to demonstrate that your agency stays current on industry news, which will in turn engender trust from potential clients. The more interesting the article, the more the possibility that someone will repin it, thus giving you even more social media clout.
- Exercise Routines for Seniors: The web is full of short work-out videos, many geared toward seniors. Pin some exercise videos to help inspire clients to get up and get moving.
- Images from the Agency’s Website: One of the biggest benefits of marketing through Pinterest is that pinning images from your website will lead users right back to your virtual front door, so don’t leave out your own visuals. If your agency maintains a blog, pin any images that go with blog posts to a “Blog” pinboard. Have an image that goes along with a Senior Resource page? Pin that as well. And make certain to share the people behind the service. Personalization is what Pinterest is all about.
The New Face of Facebook
Pinterest isn’t the only social media platform with a visual pull. At the beginning of April, Facebook changed the format for all business pages with their new Timeline format. Timeline adds a new, bold cover image to the top of the page that allows companies to create a truly visual Facebook brand. Other features like highlighting important posts, more engagement with followers, and more comprehensive data tracking are also incredibly beneficial for marketing purposes.
For home care, Facebook’s Timeline opens up bigger and better branding opportunities and the ability to share more news and information, all while reaching a broader audience outside the typical referrals. Some great ways for home care marketers to use Facebook include:
- Show off Your Caregivers: When family members begin the search for home care for a loved one, a top question is “Who will be caring for my mom, dad, etc.?” Providing potential clients with images of your caregivers in action can give them a sense of security and build trust. (Be certain to get releases from your caregivers to use their image.)
- Referral Testimonials: Happy referral sources are great for business. How about posting positive referral sources and linking back to their website?
- Client and Client Family Testimonials: Happy clients are the best for business, and with Facebook, agencies can post photos of their clients along with testimonials to show their happy patients and families off to the world. (Beware of HIPAA and get releases from any client prior to showcasing them as well.)
- Showcase Your Services: Along with the agency website, Facebook is a great place to highlight service offerings.
- Promote Upcoming Events: Many agencies are involved in or sponsor local events such as Alzheimer’s or breast cancer walks. Facebook can help get the community involved through event postings and promotions.
- Post Items of Interest: Demographic information, disease information, trends in long term care, cures for chronic illnesses — all of these and any item that catches your attention can be shared through Facebook.
There are virtually limitless ways to use both Facebook and Pinterest in marketing home care agencies, but the main thing to notice in the popularity of these two sites is the trend toward the highly-visual. If you find that your site lacks sufficient “pinable” images, it may be time to consider an update to keep up with the visual marketing age.
How an agency goes to market is changing rapidly in today’s connected world. Get with the social media movement, and you will be impressed with results in a short time!